UAAP Volleyball: Ateneo, Adamson open Final Four festivities

Myke Miravite
It’s déjà vu all over again as Ateneo de Manila University and Adamson University meet again in the semifinals for the second year running.

DEJA VU. Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo spikes home a point earlier this season. Ateneo will face Adamson in the semifinals for the second year in a row. Photo by Josh Abelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – It’s déjà vu all over again as Ateneo de Manila University and Adamson University meet again in the semifinals for the second year running.

But unlike the last time, the Lady Eagles won’t be having a twice-to-beat edge over the San Marcelino side, a squad which had to claw their way into the top four to barely make it to the playoffs.

Adamson is fresh off a huge knockout match win over Far Eastern University that sent them to their second Final Four appearance in a row. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they aren’t the only ones who are riding on momentum coming into the opening tiff of the stepladder playoff.

The Lady Eagles will be bringing with them a four-game winning run as they try to return to the Last Dance in Season 76. Adamson, on the other hand, almost crashed out of the race to the Final Four after dropping three of their last four games in the eliminations.

Ironically, it was Ateneo who secured the semis ticket for the Lady Falcons as they crushed the Lady Tamaraws in straight sets to force a do-or-die playoff between Adamson and FEU.

Against the Morayta crew, Shiela Pineda shone once more scoring a game-high 25 points to propel Adamson to a thrilling five-set win and earn the right to face Alyssa Valdez, Amy Ahomiro and the rest of the Lady Eagles in the opening game of the stepladder playoffs.

Will Ateneo rue the day they kept Adamson alive or can they soar higher en route to a Finals berth? 

It’s a bird-battle to the top

The Lady Eagles are 2-0 against Adamson in the elimination round but those win did not come easy as the Lady Falcons pushed Ateneo to the edge in both games.

In the first round, Ateneo emerged as straight-set winners but it was a closer game as it looks as coach Sherwin Meneses’ girls managed to score more than 20 points in the first and third frames.

This season’s eventual league best scorer Valdez rained Adamson with 17 points while Ahomiro tallied in 12 points of her own. Pineda, who finished second overall in scoring after the eliminations, poured in 15 for the Lady Falcons but she did not receive ample support from her teammates with the team’s next best scorer Mayette Zapanta only finished with nine.

Their round 2 encounter went down the line as Ateneo and Adamson figured in an intense five-setter that saw Valdez lead the Katipunan Avenue side anew with 26 big points. Pineda finished with 25 and this time, she received a better backing with Zapanta coming up with 16 but the Lady Eagles proved to be too tough in endgame to escape the Lady Falcons.

Winner takes all

Expect fireworks when these sides clash for the third and last time this season with the league’s top scorer Valdez going up against her closest competitor Pineda in a match that could spell the difference between success and defeat.

The two will be anticipated to go hard against each other but the duel won’t be all about them as Michelle Morente, Marge Tejada, and Ahomiro can also bring it for Ateneo while Adamson also has a reliable crew in Mylene Paat, Mandy Villanueva, Marleen Cortel and Zapanta.

The winner of the Saturday Final Four opener will have a tough and bumpy road ahead with National University waiting in the next flight of the stepladder with a twice-to-beat advantage and De La Salle, who own a huge thrice-to-beat edge, watching them from the Finals berth. –

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